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Skybow 1/35 scale U.S. 3/4-ton WC56/57 Command Car

Manufacturer: Skybow, available from VLS Mail Order, 1011 Industrial Ct., Moscow Mills, MO 63362, 636-356-4888.
Kit: No. TP3506
Scale: 1/35
Price: $32.95
Comments: Injection molded, 215 parts (6 vinyl), decals.
Pros: Excellent moldings, detail, and fit, extra parts for Patton's machine.
Cons: A few underhood details missing or positioned inaccurately.
In 1942 Dodge began producing a new series of military vehicles, based on a 3/4 ton 4x4 chassis and powered by a six-cylinder engine. Dodge built over 24,000 WC56/57 command cars. General George S. Patton had a WC57 modified for his use, with a 50-cal. machine gun mount, siren, horns, a grab bar for the rear passengers, and additional armor plating to protect the rear and front of the vehicle.

Skybow's kit can be built as either a WC56 or the winch-equipped WC57. Additional parts are included to make Patton's personal vehicle. Molded in olive drab plastic, the kit features crisp moldings and a detailed engine. The one-piece chassis molding ensures correct alignment of the wheels. The tool rack for the back of the vehicle is one of the best in any kit. The wheels are mounted with press-on vinyl "keepers," which let the wheels turn freely, and allow you to add the wheels after all of the painting is complete. Decals are provided for two other command cars besides Patton's.

Before you begin building your command car, decide which version you want, as there are several optional steps that hinge on your choice. Always looking for a splash of color, I couldn't resist building Patton's car.

I didn't install the engine or the radiator in step three, but waited until I painted the parts. Assembling the winch in step four was tricky. If you correctly position the reel support (B20) and the drive (B21, B24), the winch reel will spin in its mounting. I glued mine in place anyway.

Watch your part numbers when assembling the differential mounting plates (A31-A34) and make sure they are installed in the correct position, or you'll have trouble when you install the suspension linkages (A35-A38). Assembly of the main body is straightforward. I left out the seats to paint them separately. I mounted the tool rack on the back of the body, but left out the tools until everything was painted. I installed the battery box (C25) to the right running board while dry-fitting the body to the chassis. Be sure it lines up to the hole in the side of the body, and that there are no gaps at the front or back edges. Don't worry about the small gap at the top of the battery box - you can see it in pictures of the real vehicle. I skipped ahead and glued the front fenders to the engine compartment sides, and then I was ready to paint.

With the paint dry, the engine was installed (make sure to connect the winch drive shaft to the motor), the seats were added to the body, and the body was mounted to the chassis. I had a bit of trouble lining up the engine compartment sides with the body and the radiator top (B38), probably because I had already installed the fenders. Next time I'll follow the instructions and add the fenders later. Once the front clip was dry, I built the hood in place on the kit. I didn't glue it in place because I wanted to remove it to display the engine compartment.

The decals went down fine with a little Solvaset. After a clear flat coat, the rest of the small parts were added. I especially like Skybow's headlight assemblies. With a coat of silver paint inside the headlight housings and the clear lenses added, they look realistic.

While my reference library didn't have a lot of information on the Dodge command car, I was able to find a lot of information about the vehicle on the Internet. The most useful site was Steve Anderson's; he's restoring a full-size WC57. The finished model matched perfectly to the data I downloaded from an actual Dodge tech manual.

While the engine compartment is well detailed, several prominent items are missing. The large fuel filter and oil can are not present on the firewall, and the ignition coil is missing from the left side of the engine. The radiator hose that runs from the bottom of the radiator back to the water pump is also missing. All of these would be easy for the advanced modeler to add. None of my research photos show a battery mounted in the engine compartment as in the kit, but show it stored in the box on the right running board.

Despite these few errors, the Skybow kit is superb, with fine moldings, detail, and excellent fit. I spent only 16 hours building mine, a little less than usual for such a detailed model.

While the kit is not for the beginner, I expect that any modeler comfortable with working with small parts will have little trouble building it. Skybow has announced that they are doing a WC51 weapons carrier based on the same chassis. Anxiously waiting . . . .

John Plzak


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